By Alex Boyer
Freshwater springs perfect for swimming, swamplands full of wildlife and more are waiting to be explored in Florida. Featuring some of the most diverse terrain, these hiking trails are unlike those you might find anywhere else. Lace up your hiking boots and get ready for an adventure you’ll never forget at any of these breathtaking trails.
The Everglades are known as the most iconic natural feature in the Sunshine State for good reason. Teaming with wildlife that is unique to the area, the Shark Valley is one of the most popular for those hoping to get a glimpse of this infamous swampland. Prepare to be amazed by the birds, gators, and other wildlife you might see as you walk or bike the trail. Going to the Observation Tower at the midway point is a must—the panoramic views you’ll see here are magnificent!
Hoping to see Florida’s very own sea cow, also know as the manatee, in it’s natural habitat? Then head over to Blue Spring State Park and walk the 1.3-mile boardwalk trail. This short, easy trail is perfect to bring the kids along to, as there are many viewing platforms to use to view the majestic manatees as they swim and drift. Here you won’t run in to just one or two of these creatures, but rather a few hundred if you come on a good day!
Known as the only state park in Florida to offer cave tours to the public, the Florida Caverns State Park amazes hikers with its limestone stalagmites, flowstones, and draperies. The Caverns Trails System is actually a group of intersected trails that surround Tunnel Cave and the outer loop is approximately 1.5 miles. This is the only trail in the state where you hike through a cave! Pay the extra few dollars to do the cave tour (you won’t be sorry) and then begin at the Floodplain Trail. Don’t forget to pack a flashlight—cutting through Tunnel Cave can be a little eerie without one.
This 2.5-mile trail is a boardwalk, meaning it’s easy to navigate. At Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, you’ll trek through an old-growth cypress forest as you view trees that are up to 600 years-old! Make your way to the Observation Deck for some beautiful views and great opportunities to see the striking birds that are native to the area. Make sure to check out the “Recent Wildlife Sightings” board before you begin—you never know what you might see!
The Blackrock Trail on Big Talbot Island is a great outdoor adventure for those who love to be by the sea. Situated between Amelia Island and Little Talbot Island, this spot’s rare rocky shoreline is unlike any of the other beaches in the state. The dark rocks and large pieces of driftwood scattered around the shore will have you feeling as if you’re stepping onto a West Coast beach! This mile-long hike is very popular, so get here early to check out a more remote look at this unusual spot.